MEXICO CITY — Mexican retailers have lost more than 30 billion pesos, or $1.3 billion, to shop lifting and inventory shrinkage since 2014, retail lobby president Vicente Yáñez said as stores continue to recover from last week’s heavy protests and lootings.
“I would say losses are going to be north of 1.5 billion pesos [or $68.7 million because of the lootings] but they could be more,” Yanez said, adding they were still be counted. “We are not just looking at merchandise losses, but also at destroyed locales which need to be rehabilitated.”
He confirmed Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Coppel and hypermarket chains Soriana and Chedraui were the worst-hit companies as furious Mexicans ransacked roughly 2,000 retailers to protest against a 15 to 20 percent fuel-price hike dubbed the “gasolinazo.
Thousands marched against the sudden measures imposed by increasingly unpopular President Enrique Peña Nieto, who pledged a 2013 energy reform that would keep prices stable. The mayhem, which reportedly left five dead and triggered 800 arrests, came as consumers are feeling the pinch from higher inflation and the specter of a mild recession from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-Mexico policies.
The vandalism blunted good news from Walmex, as Wal-Mart Stores’ Mexican and Central American division is called, as it reported 2016 turnover rose 9 percent last year.
Mexico’s largest retailer said it earned 429.7 billion pesos, or $19.7 billion, on an all-store basis in Mexico and 8 percent on a same-store basis. Revenues soared 25.7 percent in Central America to 99 billion pesos, or $4.54 billion.
Walmex opened 92 stores to operate 2,291 units in Mexico and 731 in Central America.
A Walmex spokeswoman confirmed stores were vandalized, but would not provide specific counts or loss estimates.
For Antad’s 50,000 members, the ransackings (which insurance companies have declined to cover) come as efforts to crack down on shoplifters and stem shrinkage had been gradually improving.
“We lost 13.8 billion pesos [$633 million] from theft and other inventory inefficiencies in 2014,” Yanez said, adding that Antad members invested $100 million to turn the tide through new surveillance technology and inventory-loss controls. In 2015, theft and other losses fell to 0.9 percent of sales from 2 percent in 2014, adding to gradual reductions since 2010, when they stood at 2.3 percent.
But despite those efforts, theft and inventory shrinkage costs have ranged “well over” 10 billion pesos, or $459 million, annually since 2010, Yanez said, adding that up to 12 percent, or $165 million, of that is in apparel and footwear.
Smaller-retailer losses are not included as the estimates, only tally losses for Antad’s large supermarket and department-store members, Yanez added.
He blamed a lack of efficient local and state police, which Antad has urged the government to improve, as the main culprit.
As higher pump prices fuel inflation and Mexicans contend with lower economic growth, consumption will likely fall sharply this year, Yanez conceded.
“Overall nominal sales could fall by half from the 7 percent increase we had last year,” he said. “On a real basis though [including inflation], we could be flat.”